The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (“NSTIC” or “Strategy”), signed by President Obama in April 2011, acknowledges and addresses a major weakness in cyberspace – a lack of confidence and assurance that people, organizations, and businesses are who they say they are online. Additionally, in the current online environment, individuals are asked to maintain dozens of different usernames and passwords, one for each website with which they interact. The complexity of this approach is a burden:
- To individuals, and it encourages behavior – such as the reuse of passwords – that makes online fraud and identity theft easier.
- To online businesses faced with ever-increasing costs for managing customer accounts, the consequences of online fraud, and the loss of business that result from unwillingness by the user to create yet another account.
Moreover, both businesses and governments are unable to offer many services online, because they cannot effectively identify the individuals with whom they interact. Spoofed websites, stolen passwords, and compromised accounts are all symptoms of inadequate authentication mechanisms.
The Notion of an Identity Ecosystem. The Identity Ecosystem envisioned in the NSTIC is an online environment that will enable people to validate their identities securely, but with minimized disclosure of personal information when they are conducting transactions.
- The vibrant marketplace created by the Identity Ecosystem will provide people with choices among multiple accredited identity providers, both private and public, and choices among multiple credentials.
- The added convenience, security, and privacy provided within the Identity Ecosystem will allow additional services to be put online to drive greater economic growth.
Notwithstanding the objective to improve identification and authentication in cyberspace for certain types of transactions, not all Internet activities have such needs. Thus, the capacity for anonymity and pseudonymity will be maintained in the envisioned Identity Ecosystem.
A Private Sector Driven Collaboration. A core tenet of the NSTIC is that its implementation must be led by the private sector. The NSTIC calls for the Federal Government to work collaboratively with the private sector, advocacy groups, public sector agencies, and other organizations to improve the processes by which online transactions are conducted. The Strategy itself was developed with substantial input from both the private sector and the American public. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”), which has been designated to establish a National Program Office to lead the implementation of the NSTIC, recognizes that a strong and vibrant public-private partnership is necessary to execute the Strategy’s vision in a way that supports the wide range of interactions that occur over the Internet. As such, NIST is leading the effort to fulfill the NSTIC’s call for government to work in close partnership with the private sector and other relevant stakeholder categories to:
[Establish a steering group to] administer the process for policy and standards development for the Identity Ecosystem Framework in accordance with the Guiding Principles in [the] Strategy. The steering group will also ensure that accreditation authorities validate participants’ adherence to the requirements of the Identity Ecosystem Framework".
Establishment of the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group (“IDESG”). The NSTIC, which was signed by President Obama in April 2011, called for the establishment of a private sector-led steering group to administer the development and adoption of the Identity Ecosystem Framework: the IDESG. The IDESG receives its authority to operate from the active participation of its membership in accordance with the Rules of Association which follow. The IDESG has been initiated with the support of NIST. Following an initial period, the IDESG will transition to a self-sustaining organization.
The Identity Ecosystem was established during a Kickoff Meeting held in Chicago from August 15-16, 2012. The Kickoff Meeting was a huge success, bringing together 195 Steering Group members who attended in person and 315 members who participated remotely. Over the course of two days, IDESG members elected officers, reviewed draft charter and by-laws and established Working Groups and Standing Committees to address specific challenges to the Identity Ecosystem that the group is charged with creating. View Identity Ecosystem Management Council
Steering Group Membership is open to any individual or organization interested in contributing to the mission of the NSTIC. For more information about joining the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group, click here.
All Steering Group members are encouraged to join the various Standing Committees and Working Groups that now exist. The groups are already selecting their own leaders, drafting their own charters, and organizing their work over the months ahead. The IDESG Secretariat will continue to publish the work of all the groups here.